The Washington Post Better Pick a Girl!

The Washington Post ran an America’s Next Best Pundit Contest. I entered. I received an email notifying me that I am not in the 10 finalists. That would have been fun.

According to The Op-Ed Project , which is tracking by-lines in major media, The Washington Post has only 14% female representation on its Op-Ed pages. (Which is comparatively good.) Don’t give me that stale line about no female submissions . . . myself and PunditMom submitted. Women always submit. Wa-Po, you better pick a girl this time!

Below is my submission to The Washington Post. Tomorrow, with Joanne Bamberger’s permission I’ll run PunditMom’s submission. The requirement was 400 words.

sarah palin

Motherhood Rising
by Tracee Sioux

Sarah Palin’s entry on the national political scene gave me an odd sort of hope. The Good Ol’ Boys Club – voters against every attempt to help working mothers obtain equality or balance work and family – the very same GOP, shot a mother of five to the Vice Presidential Candidate spot in a desperate attempt to trump Barack Obama’s historic appeal.

Does a nursing mother with a special-needs infant, a pregnant teenage daughter and three other children trump Obama, the first African American candidate with a serious shot at The White House? No.

Still, it was the first time someone like me – a flawed, imperfect mother of young children – entered the national political scene.

I’ve always identified as a feminist, historically vote Democrat, and served as a Delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008 Texas Primaries. In short, I like Sarah Palin, but I don’t like her politics. Still, I tore a portrait of her out of Time Magazine and thumb-tacked it to my wall, alongside a speech by Gloria Steinem, and a poster of Hillary. She’s more “like me” than Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, or Diane Sawyer. She’s a mother.

Palin is symbolic of a new era of Motherhood Rising. Motherhood Rising is a change both inevitable and long overdue. Both political parties and the business sector are going to have to take notice of women who have the audacity to mother and lead.

In The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts points out that most women who “opted out” were actually “pushed out,” after they had children, by workplaces that both devalued them as workers when they became mothers and held them to a rigid patriarchal work structure not conducive to motherhood. A structure based around the assumption of a stay-at-home-mother to back up the employee. Given the choice between 50 hour workweeks and motherhood “opt-outers”, myself included, chose The ‘Hood.

I couldn’t help but notice the media too is lacking the voice of mothers. The ByLine Blog reports that women are only writing 12 percent Op-Ed pieces in the top six major publications, including The Washington Post.

Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, however, point to a new era of Motherhood Rising:
• Pepperdine University conducted a study of profitability in companies: those that hired and promoted the most women beat industry averages by 46 percent in revenue and 41 percent in terms of assets.
• Women are the highest trained and most underused resource this country has, holding 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees.
• There’s a looming labor shortage as baby boomers retire.

Whether or not Sarah Palin is the future of politics, a new era is dawning. It’s an era where motherhood is considered an asset to leadership.

Mothers who “opted out” want back in.

We want back in under terms that don’t conflict with our motherhood.

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